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IMG_3547From the Great Dance-Off of 2014

We are in our last week visiting my parents in Connecticut. That means our long-awaited annual journey and stay here is more than half over. This year it was even more hotly anticipated because I had to work my ass off to afford the airfare, given the whole stay-at-home-mom-with-trickling-freelance-income thing, and I was so much more proud of myself this time when I clicked “purchase” on the airline’s website because of that. Every extra dollar I earned or found went into the “Connecticut” envelope in our cash box. I did sponsored posts, pimped out essays for page views, hosted a cocktail party, and sold my soul to a cereal company.

It was worth it.

IMG_3646Cutthroat game of Go Fish in the card room at my grandmother’s residence.

These three-week stretches of togetherness between my children and my extended family are precious because they get to create memories and know these important, special people better every year. The boys remember where the snacks are at Aunt Kathy’s house. They look forward to the slide party at Aunt Karen’s house. They know their way around Nana’s building now. And they miss their cousins after having such great times with them every summer.

IMG_3739Instead of saying “cheese,” arm farts.

IMG_3843Before” picture at the beginning of a group geocaching hike

This year I have noticed Kyle noticing that he’s no longer the precocious, adorable center of attention. After all, we finally have a little girl in the family.

IMG_3485Apparently this is the first time Lydia let Aunt Kathy hold her, while also smiling. Must have been the popsicle!

Kyle is so big now – he is on track to be 6’6″, the pediatrician said, and he is now the size of an average 11 and a half year old. But he still has the emotional mind of a 9-year-old – testing boundaries and wanting to act older, but still a little boy.

IMG_3831With Uncle Fireman Kevin. My how you’ve grown (this picture will slay you).

Kyle loves the adoration of his grandparents and aunts and uncles, the encouragement, the applause. I could see him elbowing for attention among the smaller, cuter members of the family.

I have to stay out of it, though, because it’s a transition that he has to make. I need to step back and let him make friends (or not), be social (or not), enjoy the moment (or not) on his own.

I kind of hate it. I think the transition is much harder for me.

Every year when we come here the passage of time is so evident. We see my friends’ children and they play for a bit and I pray that they grow to love each other like I love their parents. But they are growing up so quickly that my once-a-year mission might not be able to keep up. They were babies together. And now they are almost done being little kids. Ouch, my heart.

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I think I spend a lot more time lately writing about Brady because he still has a baby-like cuteness about him, and his new gap-toothed smile is a sign that his little-boy days are numbered too. One minute he’s playing with bubbles and showing uncensored joy, and the next he is too cool for the universe on his new skateboard.

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Meanwhile Kyle can now cut his own steak. And eat the entire thing. And somehow see it through his way-too-long bangs that I want to brush out of his eyes every second of our lives.

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If only I could pause time.

Oh wait, I can. A little bit. Every summer.

IMG_3570Sunset over New Haven Harbor, July 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Blue

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The view from my lounge chair at The Grand Del Mar in California last month. I’m pretty sure this is one of my all-time favorite views.


Dude, This Is a Totally Deep Hole

In attempting to solve The Case of Where To Go Dancing When You Are Over 40, my friend Leanne and I met at a beachside bar about 40 minutes from where I am staying in my parents’ town. She humors my geocaching addiction, so when I said “Let’s kill some time before the music starts by looking at the sunset and I’ll grab a cache or two” she said “Sure!”

And that’s where the night went awry.

The sunset was indeed beautiful. Look:

old lyme sunset

I snapped this picture right before I nabbed the cache, which was nestled at shoulder height among some large rocks that shored up a bridge over this inlet. What I did not realize is that the rocks were not exactly on solid ground. So when I stepped forward to replace the cache, I kicked my car keys, which I had placed on the ground next to my phone so that I’d have my hands free to sign the log, into a little depression in the rock formation.

“Haha,” I laughed to myself. “Losing the keys would be SO bad!” And I bent down to retrieve them, poking them farther into this depression, which was actually a small hole in the pile of rocks.

“HAHA!” I bark-laughed to myself. “VERY BAD INDEED!” I stuck my hand into the hole to grab the keys, and they slipped out of my hand, farther into the hole.

And I never heard where they landed.

That’s because they didn’t land. They fell into the deepest of deep holes in rocks piled up underneath bridges over salty inlets along the Connecticut coast.

Fully panicking now, I got down on my belly – in my beautiful multicolored floor length summer skirt and jeweled thongs, worn to create a beachy tried-a-little-but-not-too-hard look for the dancing at the beach bar – and shined the light of my phone into this dark hole which was now increasingly difficult to see into because the end of natural light was upon me. I felt around inside with my hand. The rocks had formed a tunnel which went straight down into blackness, roughly the diameter of my arm.

At one point, if you were, say, a fisherman paddling by in your rowboat, you might have looked up onto the white rocks that support this bridge on Route 156 in Old Lyme, CT, and seen a middle aged woman in a beautiful skirt, laid out horizontally on the dirty path, her entire right arm seemingly swallowed by the rocks up to the shoulder. I had my entire arm down in this hole, desperately feeling about for the keys. I heard some subterranean clanking, and thought with a momentary thrill that I had found them, but it was just my watch pinging against a large shard of broken glass. And that’s when I realized I was well and truly screwed. (That is not the exact word I used in my head, but since geocaching is a family activity I am keeping my language clean-ish for this story.)

I pulled my arm out of the hole, stood up to full height, and waved my lit phone over my head to signal to Leanne, who had waited across the street in her mile-high espadrille wedges, having suggested (in vain) as I skipped off on the hunt that I leave the keys with her so she could wait in the car. She is smart.

And also the best person with whom I could have shared this misadventure. Because when I shouted “I dropped the car keys down a hole and they are gone forever!” she trotted down the path in the darkening dusk, twisting her ankle and skinning her knee, looked into the hole, confirmed that the keys were indeed gone forever and we were indeed well and truly screwed…

..and she laughed.

We hadn’t even been into the bar yet. We hadn’t had a drop to drink. This was just another example of The Way Things Go Sometimes. A fluke, a thankfully harmless one.

The worst part was that her husband had to come pick us up, drive us back to get the spare key from my parents (“Um, hi Mom, yes I’m okay but I lost your car keys”) and then Leanne and I drove all the way back to get the first car, THEN we finally shoehorned at least one dance (all alone just the two of us in the middle of a big, empty beach bar that has actual people in it during the DAY) into our night before calling it and heading back home, each at a separate wheel.

In the end, the only damage done is that my Mom’s keys are lost, and those are replaceable. This story certainly is not, the moral being that if you are going to squeeze just one geocache hunt into the beginning of your night out you must give your keys to your friend or for God’s sake wear something with pockets.

Wordless Wednesday: Bulky Item Pickup

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In my parents’ town there is a twice-yearly event called Bulky Item Pickup, during which you can put large items out on the curb in front of your house and the trash trucks will pick them up. The day was Monday, but since last weekend was a holiday, it took a few days to clear all of the curbs in town. On various walks and drives I have seen TV’s, disassembled play structures, furniture in varying states of sag, and an organ. Like the kind you play.

I love the idea of Bulky Item Pickup. I wish there was such an event for the soul. A regular cleaning-out. As I walked along the beach at the end of the Long Island Sound, I felt lucky to be able to come here and clear my head, free for a short hour of the chaotic sounds of little boys.